Winning Love - Chapter Five
Alicia Blade

Welcome to the final chapter of Winning Love. I hope you've enjoyed! Keep reading after the fic to hear about what's coming up next!

Oh, and... I'M GOING TO ANIME EXPO IN TWO DAYS!

Okay.

Breathe.

Post story.

Winning Love
Chapter Five: Tuxedo Mask to the Rescue

"Let's go this way!"

"No! This way is prettier!"

"But this path goes to the lake!"

"Well I wan to go look at the Japanese Gardens!"

"I thought we were going to have a picnic by the cherry trees!"

"Yeah! Food! Let's do that!"

I laughed. It was amazing how these girls could be best friends and still argue so much!

Since the other day at the beach I had been somewhat accepted into Serena's group of friends, and was thrilled when Serena had issued an invitation to join them at the park for an afternoon picnic. The best part was that she had positively glowed when I accepted with the most heart-quickening smile I think I'd ever seen on her--and that was saying something. And so the next day I found myself at the park for a relaxing afternoon stroll.

Yes, listen to the sarcasm. This was about as relaxing as bunjee jumping, but worse since it involved four hyperactive, argumentative, gossipy girls.

And yet I felt strangely content. It didn't hurt that some of the guys, Chad, Ken, and Greg, were suffering the same fate. I had learned a lot about them already. Chad had been living at Raye's grandpa's temple since he was found sleeping on their outdoor steps one evening and Mr. Hino decided to take him in and let him earn his keep working there. He used to want to be a rock musician, but since he met Raye had been seriously contemplating staying with her and helping run the temple when they grew up. He hadn't yet clued Raye into this marvelous idea of his, but hoped she would be excited about it when he did. He was even trying to get rolled into a religious course at Tokyo University, which I thought spoke worlds for his dedication.

Ken was your typical, friendly, shy type of guy. Him and Lita had been friends since they were kids, and he was in his last year of high school and was waiting for his acceptance letter from a big art college downtown.

Greg, I instantly remembered upon being introduced to him again, was one of the rainbow crystal carriers that the Sailor Scouts had saved only a few days ago. I hadn't recognized him at the ball because I'd been too preoccupied with a staggering, drunken Serena, but now I remembered clearly. I hadn't stayed around long enough after the battle to pick up any info on him, but I remembered him saying something to Sailor Mercury about being psychic. Other than that, he was obviously very smart, even a possible match for Amy's intelligence, and was also very shy, and very crazy about Amy. No, he hadn't told me that, but the way he turned into somewhat of a bumbling idiot every time she talked to him gave it away aftr awhile.

We had come to a fork in the dirt pathway of the park. After a lot of arguing, fighting, and scrutinizing, we decided to split into groups and everyone could go where they wanted. And so, Raye and Chad headed off to the Japanese gardens, Amy and Greg went off to the lake, and Lita and Ken disappeared off toward the cherry trees.

I looked at Serena, who despite not getting to join Lita and Ken and devour some great picnic food, seemed to be very pleased with the result of their arguing. She looked at me with fluttering lashes and a wide smile. "Do you want to go to the rose garden?"

And oh, how very badly I did.

The Japanese Garden

Raye and Chad walked hand in hand over the brick pathway. Raye wasn't sure how long their fingers had been intertwined, or even who had reached for whose, but she couldn't bring herself to separate from him. The contact gave her flurries in her stomach and she couldn't stop blushing--which she hated--but thankfully Chad had his eyes glued to the pavement and didn't seem to notice. Besides, when she ventured a look in his direction, she thought she detected a hint of redness on the tips of his ears.

"So how's the music coming along, Chad?" she asked in an attempt to break the awkward silence. It was only after she'd spoken that she realized small talk might be even more awkward.

"Ah, pretty good Raye. I wrote a song yesterday. Do you want to hear it?"

"Oh, please no!"

"oh... okay..."

She giggled nervously to ease the outburst. "I'm sorry, Chad... I'm just not... really interested in that type of music. Not really my thing, you know?"

"Gotcha Raye. I actually... don't know if I'm going to keep up with it after all."

"What! But... it's your dream!"

"No, it was my dream. I actually think... I, like, want to stay at the temple... with you and Gramps."

"Chad, are you an idiot? You can't give up on something like that! Of all the stupid thing I've heard..."

"I don't want to leave you, Raye..."

"Chad, me and Grandpa can take care of ourselves! You don't have to give up on you dreams for us!"

Chad grabbed her wrists, turning her to face him. "I know, Raye. But... I want to be with you. I don't want to live without you. You're all I've ever wanted."

She stared at him, mouth open, wondering for the first time if Chad's silly little crush on her wasn't such a silly little crush after all. Pursing her lips, she gulped. "Chad, I..."

But he silenced her with the briefest of kisses and she the words left her, her lips tingling in that funny way lips tingle when something very lovely and soft has just touched them.

"Besides, Raye, I don't think I could have made it as a musician anyway. You have to admit, I'm not the most... talented musician in the world."

Raye laughed. Chad kissed her again, much more passionately this time. When he pulled away, Raye smiled dazedly up at his deep brown eyes, so full of honesty and compassion, and felt her heart melt.

"I would love to have you stay with us." She stood on her toes, seeking out another kiss, when an shattering scream was heard in the distance.

The Lake

"Isn't the lake gorgeous at this time of year?" asked Greg.

"Oh, yes. It's beautiful. There's something so calm and tranquil about it. Like nothing bad could ever happen here," Amy said, slipping off her sandals and stepping into the water so that the small ripples brushed against her ankles.

"Calm and tranquil, huh?" Greg said with a chuckle, bending down and splashing some water at the girl, who gave out an uncharacteristic squeal and laughed. "Greg, that's cold!"

"Good observation, Ms. Mizuno," he said, removing his shoes and joining her in the water, feeling the sand squish between his toes, but not having the time to enjoy it before Amy kicked at the surface, sending a water spray in his direction.

Soon, they were each smiling and soaking and splashing. Amy made a lunge for Greg, successfully toppling him into the water, though they'd only made it to wear the water was a couple feet deep and soon they were both sitting fully-dressed up to their shoulders, laughing and pinning each other's arms to keep them from splashing some more, which was really just an excuse to hold each other for a little while.

"I never thought you'd be so good at this!" Greg choked out between laughs as he attempted to catch hold of his breath. "Neither did I!" said Amy, giggling with the air of excitement and competition. They sat in the water for a long time, watching each other and grinning. Water dripped from their hair dripped, running down their faces and necks and beading in their eyelashes. Greg thought that Amy looked like a water nymph.

"I'm glad we came to the park today," Greg mumbled, suddenly shy.

"Me too," she whispered back. An unexpected shiver ran down her spine, sending goosebumps over her skin.

"You must be freezing!" Greg said, standing and pulling her out of the lake. "I'd give you my jacket if it wasn't soaked too."

"I'm fine. But thank you. Let's go sit on that dock and dry off."

And so they did, finding a warm and sunny spot and leaving wet marks on the wood where they laid down.

"Amy... I was thinking..."

"Yes, Greg?"

"Well..." he looked over at her, in awe at how the sun sparkled in her wet hair and on her wet skin and in her ever innocent blue eyes. "If maybe you'd like to go... to the amusement park sometime... with me..."

A bright smile crossed her face. "Oh Greg! I'd love to!"

"You would?"

"Of course!"

Greg twiddled his thumbs, still nervous. "Um... you do realize that I mean... as a date. Like a... a date date... right?"

She laughed. "Yes, Greg, I'd gathered as much."

Finally he smiled and, reaching over, laced his fingers through hers. They each looked up to watch a few clouds flitter across the sky, but then a piercing scream in the distance shattered the peace.

By the Cherry Trees

"How's your rice?" asked Lita, taking a bite of her tofu bean salad.

"Delicious! You were always the best cook, Lita!" She smiled at him gratefully and took a sip of her homemade cranberry tea. "When you start your own restaurant, you're going to be flooded with customers! Probably be able to retire after a few years!"

"Thank you, Ken! But I'm not that good of a cook. It's just throwing stuff into a pan for the most part!"

"Oh, stop fishing for compliments, Leets," he said with a wink. "You make the best food in Tokyo, and you know it. Much better than that McDonald's place, and look at how much money they're raking in!"

"Leets? Ken, after eight years of being best friends, you still call me that stupid nick name!"

"Well, you'll always be my little Leets. You know that."

She smiled at him caringly. "Yeah, well your little Leets can still beat you up!"

"But you wouldn't!" he pointed out teasingly. She smiled mischievously and finished the last drink of her juice.

"Oh I wouldn't, would I?" Giving just enough time for Ken to become scared, she lunged at him, easily pinning him to the ground.

"Not fair!" he said, pretending to struggle to free himself.

"You should know better than to mess with lightning, boy!"

His struggling ceased. "What's that supposed to mean?" But he didn't give her time to answer. Instead, he flipped her onto her own back and pressed her shoulders into the grass. "Do you give up?"

"Never!" and with that, she lifted her neck and pressed her lips onto his. He weakened and within a split second was on the ground again. He looked up at her wide-eyed, but her face had already returned to the determined expression of a girl who was used to winning, but Ken no longer cared who pinned who. He waited for her to realize that everything had stopped, the laughing, the smiles, the joking, and when her stubborness cleared and she looked down on her victim, her best friend since grade school, the person who had been there whenever she needed him, the guy who had lent his shoulder for her to cry time and time again, she saw him watching her with the most intense, studious gaze she'd ever seen him wore.

"What?" she asked defensively.

He smiled and shook his head and kissed her, wrapping his arms tenderly around her waist. She tensed at first, suspecting him to trick her as she had him, but soon sighed against his lips and relaxed into his embrace. She was almost afraid of the passion she felt coming from him, and worried about what would happen to their friendship when this was over, and yet she couldn't deny feeling more alive and complete in that moment than she ever had. As he reached up and ran a his thumb gently along her jaw and ear and the rose earrings she always wore, she knew that this was the best thing that had happened to their friendship in a long time.

However, they're moment in heaven was cut short by a shrill scream.

The Rose Garden

"Oh! I love roses! They're just so beautiful! Don't you think?"

"Definitely," but I wasn't looking at the roses. My eyes were glued to the shining girl next to me as she lightly fingered the petals of nearly every flower in that garden. Her eyes would linger on one and then another would catch her eye and she would flitter over to it and praise every petal and leaf before moving on once more.

Slyly, I created a red rose—this one NOT steal-tipped—and placed it in front of her small nose. She stopped in surprise, but then her eyes lit up and she looked up at me.

"I know it isn't exactly from Tuxedo Mask," exactly, "but I hope you won't hold that against me."

She giggled merrily and took it from my hand, her fingers brushing against my palm as she did so. "Where are the thorns?"

"There aren't any. Some roses have had the thorns breeded out of them."

"Oh. You really know a lot about these don't you?"

"They're beautiful flowers. Almost as beautiful as you." In a moment of unusual courage, I gave her a quick kiss on the cheek and, the courage fleeing on contact, immediately turned and continued walking down the pathway. She caught up to me, still holding the rose with a fascinated gaze.

I had become more comfortable around Serena. A few times I had even ventured to hold her hand. She never pulled away, and so I never stopped. Today I had made up my mind to tell her how I felt. But each time I opened my mouth, I would look at her dazzling beauty and become speechless and filled with doubts. Why would she want me? Cranky, bitter, boring me? I couldn't do anything for her. I could never make her truly happy. And yet, watching her running her fingers over the stem and petals of my rose as if she thought it might break, and lightly grazing it over her nose, made me realize that she WAS happy I was there with her. Not to mention how happy it made ME that I was there with her. That was all that mattered, right?

She looked up, catching me in mid-reverie, and smiled. I smiled back and returned my eyes to the brick path.

"Darien?" she whispered, as if afraid of someone overhearing.

"Yes, Serena?" I asked, my furiously-beating heart nearly clogging my throat.

"What happened to you?"

"What do you mean, Meatball Head?"

She actually smiled back at me at the mention of her nickname. I had noticed her do that a lot lately. It made me wonder if she actually did hate it when I called her that.

"Not two weeks ago you were a major jerk. You teased me and made fun of me and I could have sworn your whole purpose in life was to make me miserable. But then you bought me that sundae. And after that you gave me a standing ovation at the talent show, invited me to a ball, took me out to brunch, and even came with my family down to the beach. And now you're walking with me at the park and I feel like I couldn't possibly have better company. So... what happened?"

I smiled, my chest swelling with pride at the unexpected compliment. "I guess I just realized that I don't want to be your enemy. I don't want you to hate me and think I'm the scum of the Earth and all that."

"I never hated you Darien." Then she quickly looked away at the ground and began twirling the rose stem between her fingers. "I... I need to tell you something...though..."

"What's that?"

She bit her lip and returned her eyes to mine. Then she looked around. The rose garden had quite a few couples strolling through it. She took my wrist and began dragging me down another pathway. Soon, I saw where she was headedL a gardener's shed. When we reached the door, she swung it open and ushered me inside. I quirked an eyebrow but didn't argue, my mind suddenly filling with inappropriate thoughts that I desperately tried to shoo out of my post-adolescent brain. Clearing my throat, I scanned the little shed. It was mostly empty other then a few rakes, shovels, and a coiled up hose in the corner. A small dirty window on the north wall and the small cracks in the weathered boards were the only sources of light.

She shut the door, eliminating our best source of light, and I turned to see her standing nervously, grasping her skirt in big fistfuls and staring down at the filthy floor.

"Serena? What do you need to tell me? You know you can tell me anything, right?"

She nodded her head. Reaching forward, I tilted her chin up so I could look into her gorgeous blue eyes, now filled with confusion and nerves.

"I..." she started, looking into my eyes as if she was searching them for something. "I... want to tell you... how I feel."

I thought I might pass out with hope and anticipation and desperately tried to keep my voice steady as I said, "what do you mean?"

"First, you have to promise you won't laugh at me."

"I wouldn't."

"And... that you won't look at me as some stupid teenager either."

"Serena, you're not stupid."

"And also... you have to promise... that you won't... that you won't hate me."

This took me by surprise. Me? Hate Serena? Was she serious? I stepped a tiny bit closer to her. "I could never hate you."

She took deep breath and nodded. "Then... I... I think... well, I know... that I... I..."

Before she could finish her sentence, a scream was heard just outside the shed.

Serena jumped back, her face paling. "What was that?"

I ran to the door and opened it a crack to peer out, my gaze alighting on a youma standing in the center of the rose garden. It looked like a slug with a turnip shaped head. Two horns poked out from it's scull and long vines that might have taken the place of arms—if youma-slugs had arms—were wrapped around a few people who had tried to run away.

"Oh no!" gasped Serena, standing beside me. "Um... Darien... uh... why don't you stay here, and I'll go get us some help."

"Serena, are you insane? No! You stay! I'm going to go... call the police."

"The police?" she screamed, then suddenly remembering that it might be a bad idea to call attention to herself and lowering her voice. "This is no job for the police! We need Sailor Moon!"

"Well unless you are her good friend or something, I suggest you stay here!" I pushed her back to the center of the shed, cursing her stubborness and hoping I could convince her to stay so that I could go transform into Tuxedo Mask.

I turned to leave but she dashed in front of me, blocking my path. "No, Darien! I won't let you go out there! I'm smaller! I can duck behind bushes a lot easier! You stay here and I'll go get some help, okay?" Her eyes were pleading and almost brimming with tears. "Darien, promise me you won't go out there. PROMISE ME!"

I stared at her in utter shock and misery. She couldn't actually be serious, could she? What kind of man would let a small, innocent girl run into danger like that? Especially one he was madly in love with?

"Please, Darien. Please, promise me. I couldn't stand it if anything happened to you." A tear slipped down her cheek and I turned away, growling—angry at her and at myself and at the stupid youma—"Fine. I promise.

"Good."

"But under no condition am I letting you—"

But she was already gone.

I blinked at the door that was still cracked open and the empty space and wondered how she had slipped out so quickly, quietly, gracefully, but then the full stupidity of what I had just done hit me like a tornado. My god, the girl was going to get killed! But not if I had anything to say about it.

Transforming into Tuxedo Mask, I ran out of the shed.

I immediately leapt onto the shed's roof and bounded into a nearby tree to survey the action and see if I could spot Serena. People lay strewn across the pathways and grass, mostly unconscious, some moaning in pain. Sailor Mercury, Sailor Mars, and Sailor Jupiter were already throwing attacks at the slug-monster, but there was no sign of Sailor Moon, or Serena. I began fearfully scanning the bodies, hoping I wouldn't see a pair of blonde meatballs on any of them, when I caught sight of her from the corner of my eye—standing and perfectly unharmed, thank god. She hadn't gone from from the shed and seemed to be watching the scouts fight with increasing apprehension. Without warning, she threw her hand into the air and looked about to declare something, when the monster threw a bunch of large carrot-shaped knives at the shed behind her.

It disintegrated on contact.

Serena's hand dropped, her mouth hung open as she stared at the pile of rubble. The fight continued in the garden, but Serena seemed to have forgotten all about it. Collapsing to her knees, she screamed. I shuddered at the sound, the most agonizing sound I'd ever heard.

But then I noticed the monster preparing another attack, this time aimed for the girl. The deadly vegetables soared toward her and, panicking, I jumped from my perch and swept her into my arms. I carried her to another area of the park. Her face was buried in her hands and she was sobbing the whole time. When I finally set her down, she sunk to the grass and continued to cry, shaking and wailing and not even realizing I was there. Kneeling, I put my arms around her, but she pushed me away.

"Go away. Leave me alone."

"What's wrong? Why are you crying? The Sailor Scouts will take care of that monster and everything will be okay. You'll see."

"NO! No, everything will not be okay! Nothing's okay!"

"What is it? What happened?"

"He's gone. That monster killed him. He's gone..." she whispered. "I saw it. He... he's gone. He was in the shed and... that ugly monster! He killed him! Darien..."

I blinked. "But, Serena, I..."

Wait. Oooooohh... Darien. In the shed. Right.

"Serena, it's okay, I'm..."

"He left me. He left me. And now that I finally realize what he's really like. That I actually get to know him. And he LEAVES me! He can't do this! He can't do this to me. I need him. Darien, come back..."

"Look, I'm sure he's fine..." I reached for her again.

"NO HE'S NOT!" She screamed, pushing me so hard I fell backward. She jumped to her feet, tears rolling down both cheeks and glared at me, her cheeks flushed and hair messed and nose dripping. "Don't you get it? He's gone! He swore to me that he would stay in the shed. HE PROMISED!" Then she gasped and the anger faded as quickly as it had come. "Oh my god. I killed him. I killed him. No! Darien..." She collapsed to her knees again and I rushed forward to put my arm around her. "You don't understand," she whispered, choking. "I loved him."

I tensed, my heart stalling.

Um... we were still talking about me, weren't we?

"I loved him. I LOVE him. And I... I never got to tell him how I felt. And he's never going to know. He left me. He left me before I could say, and now he'll never, ever know, and I'll never, ever love again..."

I tried to force down a smile, but it wasn't working so I gave up. My heart had tripled in size and I felt dizzy with the sheer elation her words brought. Lifting her head to look at me, I grinned at her.

"Trust me. He knows how you feel."

Her eyes narrowed into a hateful glare. "You are such a jerk!" she hissed, catching me off guard. "How can you possibly smile at me when I just told you that the man I love just died!"

Okay, maybe the overwhelming smile did seem a little callous, but at this point there wasn't much I could do about it. "Because, Serena, he didn't die. And he knows how you feel."

She furrowed her brow, squinting at me in speculation. "How do you know?"

"Because... you just told him." I leaned forward and placed a butterfly kiss on her pink lips. She gasped and pulled away.

"Tu... Tuxedo Mask?"

I shook my head with a sly grin pulled off the hat and mask. She covered her mouth with her hands and her eyes became round and wide.

"DARIEN!" She lunged forward, knocking me to the ground. Her arms surrounded my neck and her fingers clutched at my cape. Once again, tears came rushing down her cheeks into my jacket. This time, though, they were tears of happiness. I hugged her back with equal enthusiasm and she held onto me as if she were afraid I might disappear at any moment. I held onto her out of pure joy for what she had told me.

She loved me.

She.

Loved.

Me.

I kissed the top of her head, feeling her hair tumbling around my arms. Slowly she pulled back to look at me, awe in her face, and I detransformed, wanting her to see Darien Chiba and not some super hero. She smiled and her eyes swept over me briefly in disbelief before meeting my gaze again.

"I... I thought..."

"You were wrong."

"But... the shed... and you..."

"I broke my promise."

"I'm glad." She smiled and I sat up next to her. Then a look of realization clouded her joyful features. "Oh!"

"What?"

"You... you let me say all those things! You... you heard me... and... oh you must think I'm just a stupid girl with a stupid crush! And now you hate me and I ruined our friendship and... oh no!"

Placing a hand on each side of her small face, I forced her to look up at me. "Serena. I could never hate you. I love you far too much."

Lowering my face to hers, I kissed her—a kiss that I hoped would tell her just how much I needed her, wanted her, craved her, desired her, adored her, cared for her, and loved her. She was surprised at first but then returned the kiss with the same passion and I knew my message had come across loud and clear. Slowly I moved my hands to her back and held her next to me as her fingers entwined themselves in my hair. All thought was lost as I fell into the heaven I'd been dreaming about before I even realized what I felt toward this amazing girl.

This girl who loved me.

Reluctantly, I pulled away, grinning like a dope, albeit a very, very happy dope. Her head fell against my chest and she sighed contentedly.

"Darien?"

"Yeah?"

"I really love you."

I kissed the top of her head and squeezed her tighter, thinking how nice it would be to say something witty and charming and splendid, but all I could think of was, "I really love you back."

"SERENA!" We turned to see an extremely irritated Raye stalking toward us. "We have been looking everywhere for you! You know, you could have helped us back there a little!" Then her eyes fell on me. "Oh, I mean, um... hey! I thought you were with Tuxedo Mask!"

"Well, I uh... was. Um... sort of still am..."

I looked at her sternly, mentally communicating that my secret identity was not to become gossip-fodder, but she looked at me understandingly and winked.

Looking back at Raye, I saw that Amy and Lita were with her as well. "What on Earth do you mean you still ARE?"

Serena cleared her throat. "Um, Darien, I want you to meet my friends. Sailor Mars, Sailor Mercury, and Sailor Jupiter." They all gasped and stared at her wide-eyed.

"Serena! What the hell do you think you're doing?" hissed Raye.

Serena ignored her. "Guys, Darien is Tuxedo Mask." We stared at each other for a long while in utter silence. Then I realized... if they were the Sailor Scouts... no, it couldn't be! But then, where was...

"Um... where's Sailor Moon?"

Serena cleared her throat and I turned to her in disbelief. She smiled shyly. "Surprise?"

"Serena?" I choked out. She nodded. I gawked at her until a blush covered her face and she began to giggle at my dumbfounded expression. Finally, she spoke, "Well, I never would have guessed you to be Tuxedo Mask either! I mean, my impossible crush turns out to be the guy I've miraculously fallen in love with! What are the chances of that?" She laughed and I smiled at her, then wrapped my arms around her once more and kissed her full on the lips, completely forgetting about our little audience. She kissed me back. Raye, Amy, and Lita sighed with joy and I could tell they were all watching with dreamy glazed over eyes, and the thought brought a blush to my face and I forced myself to pull away from my lovely meatball head. She batted her eyelashes at me in the exact same way I'd seen Sailor Moon do so many times and I laughed, reprimanding myself for not noticing sooner. No wonder I was always so protective of the Moon Soldier. I loved her, all this time, just like I loved my Serena, and now I could protect them both.

The fluttering lashes proved too much for my weak willpower and I decided I didn't care what her friends thought or saw. Pulling Serena against me, I kissed her again. Passionately. Desperately. Completely.

The Next Day

I strolled down the sidewalk, that silly, dopey grin still firmly in place. I hadn't stopped smiling since that first mind-blowing kiss. As I turned the corner of the street, I saw Serena walk cheerfully into Crown Center Arcade. An even bigger smile dawned on my face and I followed her in. When I got inside, she was talking to Andrew.

"Hey Andrew! Have you seen Darien?"

He looked at her surprised. "You... WANT to talk to Darien?"

I chuckled. "Hey Meatball Head." She turned and I saw her face light up like a Christmas tree before she launched into my arms at full speed, nearly knocking me to the ground. I laughed and wrapped my arms around her. "Miss me?" She beamed up at me and I couldn't resist her lips for another moment. After the kiss, I looked up to see Andrew with the most flabbergasted expression I had ever seen. I laughed again and Serena turned to see what was so funny, then started giggling as well.

"Hey Andrew. Do you want to join us for lunch?" I invited.

"Ser... Serena was the one? You've gotta be kidding!"

"I was the one what?"

"Let's see," I answered, copying Andrew, "the one who has me completely ga-ga. The one I can't seem to keep my mind off of for more than 30 seconds. You mean that one? Yes, in fact, that was Serena. All that time."

Serena sighed happily and looked up at me with glazed eyes. "You are so sweet." I smiled down at her and kissed her once more, then pulled another rose from behind my back.

"I do believe you left your rose in the shed the other day."

She took it happily and pecked me on the cheek. "Thank you."

"So how about that lunch?" I asked turning to Andrew who looked as if he were in shock.

"I... uh... I... Serena?"

"Yes. Serena. What, are you surprised?"

He just nodded.

"Well, I think you need a little time to collect your thoughts. We'll see you around, Andrew."

"Bye!" Serena waved cheerfully as we began heading toward the automatic doors. He instinctively waved back, his jaw still agape. My arm found its way around Serena's waist and when we were outside, I kissed her tenderly on the lips and we walked off into the sunset. Or... as much as we could at one o'clock in the afternoon.

And while Queen Beryl, the Wise Man, and Galaxia (among others) may have prevented this from being the happiest ever after of all time...

I thought it was pretty damn close.

The End

Notes:
If you enjoyed the poem Serena "sang" for the talent show, you can find it and many more in my published poetry book: Every Day Will Come. Please email me for more information.

Next in line is Newborn Wings, a short Chibiusa/Elios fic, followed by White Roses, an unusual AU. And that will be ALL of my old fics! (At least those even remotely worth re-posting).

THEN I will be glad to start posting Fairy Tale. No, it isn't complete yet (and you know how I hate posting incomplete things), but it is 200 pages and counting, so I hope that will provide you with months and months of updating pleasure!

Please read, review, and support your local authors!